FLOSSING – like any habit, the key to making this a self-care ritual is consistency.
The fact is, brushing your teeth only accounts for a fraction of dental cleaning. Our teeth have 5 surfaces above the gums, but our toothbrush can only reach 3 – leaving things like plaque between the teeth behind. This becomes tartar, a hardened piece of bacteria that can cause your gums to become red and inflamed, which when left unattended can lead to major discomfort and chronic dental issues like gingivitis, gum disease and tooth/bone loss. Just as you tend to your skin with a washing, toning and moisturizing ritual, so too should you with your teeth by adding in a flossing session.
Beyond the importance of caring for your teeth, oral health is associated with overall health and directly correlated with heart disease. Our bodies are incredibly intricate – everything is connected, so it’s important we don’t look at our various systems in silos. It’s also important to look at your mouth from a holistic perspective, beyond your smile. Even if you can’t “see” your back teeth or between your teeth, those are the areas where you want to focus on cleaning the most.
So how can we turn flossing into a self-care ritual you’ll enjoy incorporating into your routine?
People often avoid flossing because “it hurts” or bleeds – with daily practice, a decrease in both can be noted in as little as two weeks.
The key is to find a floss that works for you – there are so many options that are now available.
String floss is preferred because you use a new section for each tooth rather than sharing the bacteria from tooth to tooth, but floss picks are okay when on the run – just make sure it’s being used in an up and down motion from under the gum to the biting surface. We recommend adding antimicrobial essential oils to floss to make your flossing habit more therapeutic. Note that waterpiks are great for hard to reach areas, heavily restored dentition, and braces, but it does not replace flossing.
And don’t forget your lingual wires! These areas are often more time consuming to clean but the added effort goes a LONG way. You’ve spent the time and money to get your teeth straight – now keep them healthy!
Start with flossing once a day – either morning or night – and set a timer for yourself, even 1 minute to begin. Use it as an opportunity to practice presence, or pair it with a mental checklist of what you’re grateful for. When you’re finished, pause and appreciate how clean and fresh your mouth feels (did we mention flossing aids with bad breath?)
We’re so lucky to have the technology and education to make our teeth last a lifetime – but with that comes work! So just as you focus on keeping your insides healthy with nourishing foods, or your skin supple with soothing oils, make a commitment to yourself to give your teeth some love with a daily floss – your future self will be so glad you did.